Saturday, May 29, 2004

JOSEPH BRENAN ; 1828-1857 : 'Young Ireland' Leader .......

Joseph Brenan was born into Daniel O'Connell's time ; huge crowds attended meetings of 'The Catholic Association' , and one eye-witness gave the following account .......

" The whole district was covered with people . The population within a days march began to arrive on foot shortly after daybreak and continued to arrive , on all sides and by every available approach , 'till noon . It was impossible from any one point to see the entire meeting - the number is supposed to have reached between 500,000 and 700,000 persons ."

The population was upset ; they had to contend with hunger , evictions and early death . They were living like animals - a visitor from France , Gustav de Beaumont , described the conditions that Joseph Brenan , too, would have seen in Ireland at that time (ie the early 19th Century) -

- " Imagine four walls of dried mud , which the rain , as it falls, easily restores to its primitive condition , having for its roof a little straw of some sods , for its chimney a hole cut in the roof , or very frequently the door through which alone the smoke finds an issue . One single appartment (sic ?) contains father , mother , children and sometimes a grandfather or grandmother ; there is no furniture in this wretched hovel - a single bed of straw serves the entire family .

Five or six half-naked children may be seen crouched near a miserable fire , the ashes of which cover a few potatoes , the sole nourishment of the whole family . "

The English 'Establishment' and their 'Landlord' puppets had their fine gala-balls and sporting-days , while the Irish 'lived' in " wretched hovels ...". However - we all of us have to answer to our God one day .......



war and peace in rebel Cork ,
in the turbulent years 1916-21.

By Micheal O'Suilleabhain : published 1965.


".......If left alone , we would pass as a mixture of Black and Tans and Auxiliaries and we all struck a superior posture in the car , as they do . We were ready to engage them if we had to , but they were not our target this day ......."

" We were now in Washington Street , Cork , and soon we could see to the end of it . We watched the junction with Main Street - all clear , but what would the Grand Parade reveal ? We swept gracefully into it in a right hand quarter-circle , while our eyes instinctively swept from Patrick Street corner to the Mall , noting particularly Tuckey Street corner . Soon we were past that abode of a vile mix - RIC and Black and Tans . Turning left , we were in the South Mall ; a few hundred yards , and we turned right over Parliament Bridge , across the south channel of the River Lee .

Crossing the quay , we went up Barrack Street and past Cat Fort Gate , where a Black and Tan sentry stood with sloped rifle . He brought his right hand across to the small of the butt , then down smartly to his side - a salute for us ! The first half of it looked bad , but good manners carry one a long way ; a few of us returned the salute wearily ! Some little time after passing by Cat Fort , we over-ran our road to the left - there was some doubt as to where the next road to the left led , and we decided to enquire . This proved to be more troublesome than we expected : we could see people approaching us as if hurrying to work , yet they never reached us . They turned in a doorway or a gateway or a street , so we rushed to the corner of the street to shout after them but they had vanished !

We felt that we were not popular . At length we chased a young man going in our own direction , and grabbed him as he turned in a wicket-gate - he was frightened , but would tell us nothing ......."



By Carol Coulter.

(First published in 'The Irish Times' newspaper on Monday 22nd April 1985).

Reproduced here in 7 parts .

[7 of 7].

In the next election , in 1981 , the 'Workers Party' , formed ten years earlier out of a split in Sinn Fein , won a seat in the Dail (sic- Leinster House) after three attempts in the three previous elections . In 1982 it won three seats , with 2.3 per cent of the vote , but lost one in the subsequent election , though its share of the vote remained almost the same .

The only other small party to have won seats in the Dail (sic) is Sinn Fein , which contested the 1957 election on an abstentionist platform and won four seats ; it lost them all in 1961 , and did not contest another election until 20 years later , in 1981 , when it was heavily involved in the election campaigns of the H-Block prisoners who ran to highlight the Hunger-Strike .

Of obvious necessity , they ran on an abstentionist platform and two of the Republican prisoners , Paddy Agnew and Kieran Doherty , were elected ; Doherty died on Hunger-Strike , and Paddy Agnew did not run in 1982 .

(Tomorrow - 'GETTING OUT' ; from 'New Statesman and Society' magazine , 1988).